As a musician, it is good for your health to be in the company of other good musicians. I don’t think I could really exist as a musician without it.
And pianist Shai Wosner practices what he preaches! He is currently on a European tour, playing in trios of Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert with good friends Veronica Eberle and Danjulo Ishizaka.
Barely 4 days after Hurricane Sandy landed and destroyed large areas of the East Coast, I spoke to Shai via Skype from her New York apartment. In addition to the damage caused by the roof leak, he ensured that everything was fine for them as they lived on a small hill. However, his agent said he works in his boss’s apartment because their office is located in a building threatened by the famous unstable crane.
Shai is a person who wants a little risk and a little nervous energy in his performances. You feel that if you are too comfortable, the music will suffer. One side of the nerves, but the excitement is the other.
I think it’s healthy to be nervous to a point – you never want him to take over his power … if I’m too comfortable, I’m somehow less involved. Using this (nerve energy) is a very important trick you need to master … you’re trying to control it to make music, and when it works, you feel really, really amazing. It directs you toward something productive and creative and makes the most of it.
I asked him if there was a moment when he knew he was a pianist. He replied that he always knew he was a musician, but he didn’t really make that distinction, and he didn’t remember a moment of conscious realization.
When I grew up and was exposed – first to Mozart, to virtually everything else – there was a personal identification on my part with his story. I think as a kid, you don’t just have to stick to music, and it had a lot to do with it.
We continued a bit about the traditionally rebellious teenage years.
Of course, that I didn’t like to practice, I have to admit this, and I wish I had practiced more in my teens, to be honest. But there was no major crisis; no, I’ll never play the piano again, or anything dramatic, not really what I remember.
Shai’s latest recording includes Sonatas D 840 and 850 as well as 6 Schubert German dances. In the videos above, you can hear more thoughts about Schubert, Ligeti and Haydn, Beethoven and Debussy, what real listening means, his varied career and his latest projects. I really appreciated the honesty and depth of your comments, and I hope you enjoy meeting this gracious artist as well.